YA as far as I can gather covers 12-18 year olds with similarly aged protagonists, no sex and exploring some of life's issues. If so, this book wouldn't be suitable for them which is a pity as it is a fabulous, well written, very moving book that many young adults would unfortunately relate to.
But it's not a romance. It's pure gay fiction, the sort of book I wish more m/m romance writers would read every now and then to gain a real understanding of what growing up gay is all about.
The theme of bullying is so excellently depicted your heart just bleeds for the protagonist and the author himself as Wayne Mansfield admits that many of the scenes depicted happened to him.
I think what really resonated for me were the side characters. Those that could have/should have/would have helped.
In the Author's note, he writes:
"If you know or suspect that someone is being bullied, please take the time to talk to them. They may not bring it up themselves, or want to talk about it, but knowing someone is there, to support and talk to, is often empowering."
I for one am prepared to promote the book as much as I can as I believe that is a great way to show support.
The style of writing is good, with most done in third person, however at times the protagonist slips into fantasizing and those sections are written first person, present tense. This works brilliantly and adds just the right feel to the book as you're swept away in dreams of what the world should be like.
I've never read any of Wayne's books before as I don't tend to go for dark erotica, however if and when I do read them, I'm sure I will have a much better appreciation on where those ideas come from after reading what he felt growing up.
Unfortunately, you won't go away after reading "The Hiding Place" feeling that life is now a bed of roses. As Wayne also says in his Author's note:
And it is a struggle. I can also tell you, first-hand, that these scars last well into adulthood. These scars can take the form of depression and other mental disorders, inability to form lasting relationships, trust issues, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anxiety or anger issues, and sometimes suicide.
Sometimes I wonder if by enduring suffering and hardship and surviving, we can learn lessons and gain the strength to help others. I hope that is the case in this respect and Wayne has found the strength to survive. If this is a good example of his writing, that alone shows he has something very valuable to add to the world.
Definitely worth reading.